The Washington Post
Sacramento beats Brooklyn to clinch its first winning season since 2005-06
Domantas Sabonis had 24 points and 21 rebounds, and the visiting Sacramento Kings clinched their first winning season since 2005-06 by beating the Brooklyn Nets, 101-96, on Thursday night.
De’aaron Fox added 18 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Kings, who improved to 42-27, second in the Western Conference. They hadn’t finished above .500 since going 44-38 in 2005-06, the last of eight consecutive playoff appearances under coach Rick Adelman.
The Kings have had a losing record in the other 29 seasons since they moved to Sacramento but are in good shape to end the NBA’S longest current postseason drought in their first season under Coach Mike Brown.
They improved to 10-2 since the all-star break by turning to their defense on a night their usually potent offense stalled while playing on the second night of a back-to-back. They won Wednesday in Chicago when Fox’s three-pointer gave them a 117-114 victory.
Sabonis had 20 points by halftime, and the Kings led by as many as 17, but the Nets made it close.
● NUGGETS 119, PISTONS 100: Denver has been so dominant this season that it clinched the Northwest Division with a few weeks left in the regular season.
Nikola Jokic deferred to teammates early before looking for his shot and finished with 30 points to help the Nuggets beat host Detroit and end a season-high four-game losing streak.
“This has to be a building block,” Denver Coach Michael Malone said. “I told our team: ‘It’s a good win. Clinched a playoff spot. Won your division. That’s great. Let this be the start of something special. We lost four in a row, lowest of the low for us during this season. Now let’s get back to playing and go on a run.’ ”
● RAPTORS 128, THUNDER 111: Pascal Siakam had 25 points and 14 rebounds to help Toronto beat Oklahoma City, extending its season-high home winning streak to six.
Jakob Poeltl had his third straight double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Raptors. Gary Trent Jr. added 23 points, and Fred Vanvleet and Scottie Barnes each had 19.
O.G. Anunoby scored 17 points for Toronto as all five Raptors starters reached double figures.
Shai Gilgeous-alexander scored 29 points and Jalen Williams had 15 for the Thunder, which came in having won three straight and six of seven. Oklahoma City is 13-21 on the road.
● PACERS 139, BUCKS 123: Andrew Nembhard scored 24 points and Aaron Nesmith hit six three-pointers and finished with 22 points as Indiana rallied late and beat Eastern Conferenceleading Milwaukee on the road.
With Nesmith leading the way, Indiana (32-38) made 20 of 41 three-pointers, including 11 of 14 in the second half, and shot 56.5 percent overall. Meanwhile, Milwaukee (50-20) shot 52.8 percent, went 11 for 32 from beyond the arc and gave up 13 points off 12 turnovers.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 25 points. Jrue Holiday added 19 and Khris Middleton finished with 16 for Milwaukee.
Indiana, which was playing without injured leading scorer and all-star point guard Tyrese Haliburton (ankle), had seven players score in double figures.
Ball set for another surgery
Chicago Bulls point guard Lonzo Ball will have a cartilage transplant in his left knee, the team and his agency, Klutch Sports, said.
They did not say when the operation will take place or what the timeline for his recovery will be. It will be Ball’s third surgery on the knee in a little more than a year.
Ball hasn’t played in over a year, and Chicago ruled him out for the season last month.
“This has been a frustrating process, but I’m confident these next steps are the best path forward,” Ball said in a statement.
Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said Ball has the organization’s “full support.”
“I continue to admire Lonzo’s perseverance throughout this journey,” Karnisovas said. “This has been a long and challenging road for him, and this decision has been a difficult one to make.”
Ball hasn’t played since Jan. 14, 2022. He had surgery for a torn meniscus a few weeks later and experienced setbacks when he tried to ramp up basketball activities.